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George Henry Foster McLean | The Freeman Legacy

George Henry Foster McLean

Though George McLean was only 14 when Canada declared war on Germany in 1939, that didn't stop him from trying to enlist. The recruiting officer declined McLean's offer, but that didn't stop the determined teenager. Two years later, with his father's permission, he marched back to the naval office, and tried again. This time he was successful, and in 1942 he joined the Royal Canadian Navy, serving in Gibraltar, North Africa, Malta, Sicily, Great Britain, and France. By the end of the war he had earned numerous medals and awards, including the Italian Star, the North African Star, the France/Germany Star, and the Malta Star.

Returning to Canada, he settled in Burnaby with his wife Edna. Together they raised five children, while McLean continued his life of public service, becoming Director of the Junior Chamber of Commerce in 1946, an involvement that continued until 1957.

McLean entered municipal politics in 1957, serving in various capacities for the next 30 years, working with five mayors, and sitting on numerous civic committees, including the Parks and Recreation Commission, the Lower Mainland Planning Board, and the Greater Vancouver Regional District Planning Committee. Despite a heavy schedule of political commitments, he also found time to coach minor hockey and softball, and work as an active member of community organizations including the Royal Canadian Legion, the Rotary Club, and the Burnaby Hospital Society.

In 1989 Burnaby Municipal Council honoured McLean's many years of service by making him a Freeman of the Municipality. McLean's commitment to public service continues, as an active participant in the Memory Project, an initiative sponsored in part by Veteran Affairs Canada, to bring history home to school children, sharing his wartime experiences with younger generations. Veterans Affairs Canada - Anciens Combattants Canada Burnaby School District - SD41